In space no one can hear you scream. In British Columbia, however, plenty of people can. But I am not sure whether she screamed or not.
But first, let’s set the scene. Time: Night. Day of the Week: Any day, it doesn’t matter. She prepares for bed. Spends a little time switching off the lights, and ensuring that everything is locked up. The phone rings, but as she moves towards it, it stops. She checks the number, decides there is no urgency, she will call back the next day.
Then upstairs and prepare for bed. A shower, perhaps. Change into pyjamas, followed by all those mildly irritating things people do before drawing up the covers around their chins.
Then she reads a book – I am thinking something by Ann Patchett here – a few pages, before switching off the lamp and falling into dreamland. She sleeps the sleep of the just. And then it happens. The unexpected. The unplanned for. The unforeseen. The unanticipated. You get the idea.
The one thing she is not prepared for happens. A meteor crashes through her roof. And not just that. It lands beside her on the pillow. A scream is optional.
And here our scene-setting falls apart. If it is authenticity we want, we struggle to imagine how a person woken up by a meteor landing on her pillow actually reacts. Does she throw it back into outer space? Does she decide to rush to church and light a candle for her providential escape? Does she call up the emergency services? Does she worry about how she must look when help arrives?
Our literature is rich and varied. But there’s nothing in the etiquette books about how to respond to a meteor crashing through your roof and landing on your pillow. Perhaps someone will write just such a book soon. Meanwhile, our lady – Ruth Hamilton is her name, by the way – has to wing it. Maybe she’s a pioneer.
For future reference, here’s how it went. There was double relief for the recipient of this unexpected gift from the sky. She was relieved at being safe, and relieved to know that it was not someone with a gun who had jumped at her through the roof, but only a meteor a billion years old the size of a fist.
Now we are on firmer ground. We know how one person reacts, and that is a start. Double relief is followed by gratitude and a promise never to take life for granted again.
It says something about our times that a lady feels relief at a meteor because it is not a burglar with a gun jumping down from the roof. End of story. Curtain.